Top Pence aide told lawmakers Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' in closed-door testimony

Top Pence aide told lawmakers Trump's Ukraine call was 'inappropriate' in closed-door testimony
© Aaron Schwartz

A staffer for Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceShortage of medical gear sparks bidding war among states New York Times defends reporter after Trump swipe: Her 'reporting has stood the test of time' Trump approves disaster declaration for Michigan despite sparring with state's governor MORE told lawmakers in a closed-door testimony that the July 25 call between President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that helped spark an ongoing impeachment inquiry was “unusual and inappropriate.”

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Career foreign service officer and Pence staffer Jennifer Williams, who testified that she has firsthand knowledge of the discussion as one of a few officials who were on the call, made the remarks during a closed-door deposition, according to a transcript of her testimony released by House Democrats on Saturday.

During the testimony, Williams said that she found a few references made in Trump’s call with Zelensky – during which Trump asked the Ukraine leader to look into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response MORE and his son’s dealings in Ukraine as well as the hack of the Democratic National Committee server in 2016 – to be “unusual, and more of a political nature.”

When asked by Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellKey House chairman cautions against remote voting, suggests other options amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Congress tiptoes toward remote voting MORE (D-Calif.) during her testimony about her feelings on the concerns raised by Trump during the call, Williams said that she thinks she “found them to be more political in nature and, in the context of a foreign policy – or an engagement with a foreign leader, to be more political than diplomatic.”

“Some people would say that diplomacy itself is inherently political, and so everything diplomatic is , by definition, political also, but you had a strong reaction to that. Can you spell out what you saw improperly political about those mentions?” Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) asked Williams at one point during her testimony.

“I believe I found the specific mentions to be – to be more specific to the president in nature, to his personal agenda ...as opposed to a broad foreign policy objective of the United States.” Williams responded.

"I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold," she also said of the call in her deposition.

Williams is slated to testify at a public hearing next Tuesday as part of the House Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry in Trump.

According to Politico, Williams provided her deposition to lawmakers against orders from the White House.